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Four Italians head to the ‘Jungle’

MAASTRICHT. With all the blankets, pillows, clothes and shoes they’ve collected, at least one student room is already overflowing. In addition, they managed to raise some 2500 euros in two weeks. They can hardly believe it; so touched were they that they even cried. “We were so surprised by all the appreciation and loving emails and messages”, says third-year law student Angelica Giombini. “As of this week we’ve set up drop-off points in the law faculty and at the University College.”

It started with day trips. Four Italian friends – three law students and one from FASoS – decided to explore the surrounds of Maastricht in the small Fiat one of them had bought. The refugee camp in Calais turned out to be just three hours’ drive away. “We wanted to see that; all four of us are interested in politics. Then we figured, we might as well take some things with us. One thing led to another and people started sending us all sorts of things, including our friends and family in Rome and Milan.”

Is the ‘Jungle’ dangerous, with its ten thousand refugees? “Right now the atmosphere is very tense”, says Giombini, who is in constant contact with two local volunteer organisations (L’auberge des migrants and Help Refugees). “That’s because of the construction of the wall the British are now building there. In March the French razed the camp to the ground. One month later, an even bigger camp sprang up a little further up. The problem is there’s no good alternative for this group of people.”

In November the Italians will get underway, not with the little Fiat, but with one or two rental vans, depending on how many supplies are donated. “We’re using the money for medicines and things like tents and sleeping bags. We also wanted to take pasta, but the local workers told us there was no need. The African refugees there get on better with rice, apparently. But we forgive them!”

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